This article was originally posted by University of Richmond Sports Information
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Brittani Shells, ’11, can barely remember a time when she didn’t have a basketball in her hand. The guard for the University of Richmond’s varsity women’s basketball team spent much of her childhood shooting hoops on a neighborhood court, establishing a lifetime passion for the sport and ultimately spawning aspirations to play professionally.
“My dad introduced me to the sport and since then I’ve loved it,” she says. “He passed away in 2005, but I know that he still, in a way, lives on through me because I’m still playing.”
By the time she reached high school, Shells knew she wanted to play basketball in college and was looking for a small school with a coach that meshed with her style. After Michael Shafer, head coach for the women’s basketball team, reached out and compared her to her favorite basketball player — Allen Iverson — Shells decided to give the University of Richmond a look.
“[Coach Shafer] definitely drew me in,” she says. “He knew I liked to score and that’s what the team needed at the time. I took a look and loved it; I didn’t even look into any other schools. I felt at peace.”
Being on the women’s basketball team has been one of the highlights of Shells’ Richmond experience. In particular, Shells remembers playing James Madison University in the NCAA’s National Invitation Tournament her sophomore year.
“JMU is a pretty good school and it was a tie game,” she says. “Coach put me in a position where I had to create a shot and I actually made it! I was going crazy.”
Shells also found her teammates made the University a home away from home.
“My teammates are amazing,” she says. “We rarely see our families, so they’re like another family. Some people have fraternities or sororities, but I have the basketball team and that’s all I need.”
When Shells isn’t scoring baskets on the Robins Center court, she can often be found capturing her world behind the lens of her Flip camera. Film was an outlet for her growing up and a career path she’s considering entering down the road, if she doesn’t immediately enter the realm of professional basketball.
“My dream team has been the Washington Mystics,” she says. “But then I thought about the L.A. Sparks — and that’s in L.A., in Hollywood. That’s exactly where I really want to be for film.”
Though the University's film major wasn't created until Shells' junior year, the rhetoric and communication studies major still found time to prepare for film school by taking courses in the field.
This year she combined her two passions by turning the camera on her teammates during pre-season practices and workout sessions. She's now editing the footage to create her own film.
“The classes showed me a different side of film,” she says. “I never noticed how much went into creating frames. And editing my own video is a lot of work, but it’s fun to see how it all forms together.”